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Launch of Minnesota e-bike rebate applications postponed due to technical issues

Minnesota e-bike rebate application portal crashes minutes after opening
Minnesota e-bike rebate application portal crashes minutes after opening 01:47

MINNEAPOLIS — The planned launch of applications for an e-bike rebate program in Minnesota has been postponed due to a technical snafu.

Minnesotans who are interested in buying a new e-bike were supposed to be able to apply for a rebate starting Wednesday at 11 a.m. Upon launching the application, managed by Minnesota IT Services and hosted on the Minnesota Department of Revenue's website, many users found they were unable to access it.

"We are working with our external technology vendors engaged for this program to understand and fix the technical issues on the site," the Department of Revenue said. "The Minnesota Department of Revenue and Minnesota IT Services apologize to potential rebate applicants for the inconvenience."

A new launch date for the applications has not been announced.

The rebate is worth 50-75% of the cost of an e-bike and qualifying accessories, up to a maximum of $1,500. Rebates will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. The state says that total rebates are limited to $2 million a year in 2024 and 2025. 

If someone is approved, they receive the rebate certificate by email, and then have two months to go to one of the approved retailers and buy their new bike. The store will then apply the discount on the rebate certificate at the time of purchase.

"Even with more than a year to prepare, we crashed a government website. And a little point of pride — policy makers, think about what's happening here. That's how incredibly popular this program is," said Michael Wojcik, Executive Director of Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, a nonprofit that helped get the rebate legislation passed last year.

E-bikes have been a "game changer," he said, as they make bicycles more accessible to everyone and a more reliable year-round transportation option. 

Given how costly e-bikes can be, the rebate is an important part of making sure the ride is accessible. In fact, 40% of the $4 million set aside over the next two years must go towards people who make less than $41,000 a year.

It's also anticipated to give a boost to bike shops.

"The amount of people that are interested in e-bikes — it's bringing a lot of newer folks in, which as a bike shop, we're super excited about," said Cristina Montoya, a worker-owner at the Hub Bike Co-op.

In an update on Wednesday afternoon, the state said the portal closed at 1:30 p.m. Officials are working to identify anyone who applied to confirm that their information was submitted successfully. 

How much is the rebate?

The rebate is determined by an applicant's 2023 income. It's worth between 50-75% of the cost of the bike, up to $1,500.

To estimate your rebate based on your income, click here.

Who is eligible for the e-bike rebate?

In order to be eligible for the rebate, a person must be at least 15 years old. They have to have lived in Minnesota for the current year and previous year and must not have been claimed as a dependent in 2023.

For more information, including a list of approved retailers, click here.

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